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Decatur judge resigns after sending woman to jail over perjury, traffic ticket

A Decatur municipal court judge has resigned after jailing a woman for perjury, saying she’d lied about a traffic ticket.

Judge Lindsay Jones offered his resignation to Decatur Chief Municipal Judge Rhathelia Stroud on Wednesday, Decatur City Manager Peggy Merriss told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 

Jones had earlier told The AJC he was not stepping down.

The controversy began when Shari Hurston Tatum appeared in court Nov. 8 for a traffic ticket. She waived her right to an attorney and jury trial, but demanded a bench hearing, Jones said. 

Shari Hurston Tatum spent her 20th anniversary in jail after a judge ruled her in contempt of court. (WSBTV.com)

When Tatum reappeared in court Wednesday for that hearing, Jones played video of the traffic incident and decided Tatum was guilty of blocking the intersection and further that Tatum was guilty of perjury. He sentenced her to two days in jail. 

MORE: Judge sentences woman to jail over Decatur traffic ticket

“Tatum’s perjury was characterized as misbehavior before the court, and treated as a contempt of court process, for which she was sentenced to two days in jail,” Jones said.

Tatum said she was embarrassed and ended up spending her 20th wedding anniversary in jail.

After The AJC on Thursday published an article about the incident, Jones sent a letter refuting the idea that he had resigned. 

“I have not offered my resignation to Ms. Merris or the City Commission, nor have I spoken with Ms. Merris or the Commissioners as of this date relating to my judgeship,” Jones wrote on Thursday.

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But Decatur officials say Jones had resigned verbally in conversation the day before with Stroud.

“After listening to his report and sharing my concerns and subsequent expectations for what had gone forth in the Court earlier, Judge Jones tendered his verbal resignation to me last night,” Stroud said in an email to Merriss.

Stroud further said she accepted the resignation immediately on behalf of the city.

Jones said on Sunday he meant only to maintain that he would not change his order in Tatum’s case and that he intended to seek further clarification from Stroud.

“I had no intent to offer the resignation of my position to Judge Stroud, I was merely expressing my intent do so in the future if the political pressures being exerting upon me to change my order were to persist,” Jones wrote.

Based on his resignation, Jones is no longer a member of the City of Decatur Municipal Court, Merriss said.

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